* Re "Redefining Research, Plagiarism," Feb. 25: Having just graduated from college, I have some advice for professors when it comes to dealing with term papers and the Internet. In my five-year college career at San Diego State University, I wrote over 200 papers for my fellow students--pocketing a generous fee for each paper, of course--and used the Internet extensively in my research, sometimes copying entire articles verbatim to be turned in. Never did any of my customers receive lower than a B.
Perhaps the most frequent argument I heard from my fellows was that the professor was not going to read their papers--a teacher's aide was. While this argument is certainly bereft of any ethical considerations, it nevertheless is powerful: Perhaps professors should focus more energy on reading what their students write--thus becoming familiar with students' writing styles and more adept at spotting plagiarism--and less time attending "meetings."
So Cliffs Notes have given way to Internet sites with free papers for swap by lazy, dishonest college students. What an appalling lack of ethics by supposedly intelligent young people who claim that "everyone does it" and that the only difference between research and cheating is "getting caught."
When I was in college, I can recall many essays I struggled with and didn't want to write, or works of literature I didn't understand. But instead of pilfering ideas from others, I visited my professors for help or read the required work over and over until I got it. Today, I'm grateful that I know how to think for myself.
These plagiarists, however, seem to think that college is about getting A's, not an education. I hope their professors have enough savvy to spot the real from the ripped off and that a failing grade or being kicked out of school will make a dent in their amoral attitudes.
I was appalled when I read your article about cheating from the Internet. Has it become so difficult for students to formulate original ideas? If students aren't taught how to do research properly, the line between gathering information and pilfering information will disappear altogether.
I find it frightening that "Joey," who clearly finds it perfectly OK to cheat, actually got angry that nobody sent him a paper over the Internet! "I wrote the damn thing myself," he said, "and earned a fat B-minus." Well, duh, Joey, wasn't the assignment to write the damn thing yourself? I fear that Hesiod was right about our future. Anyone who didn't cheat in college will know what I'm talking about.